Virginia Senate Passes ERA

The Republican majority Senate of the state of Virginia passed a resolution to ratify the federal Equal Rights Amendment on Tuesday, the 15th. The resolution was passed by a vote of 26 to 14. Republicans control the Virginia Senate with a 21 to 19 majority. Seven Republicans joined all 19 Democrats in the Senate to support the ratification of the ERA. The resolution now goes to the House. The Senate has passed the resolution five times in the past, but in the Virginia House the Privileges and Elections Committee has blocked the resolution from coming to the floor for a vote.

The ERA was introduced also in the Virginia House of Delegates, by cosponsors, Hala Ayala (D), Luke Torian (D), and Jennifer Carroll Foy (D). The House bill was referred to House privileges and elections committee, whose chair has been known to be opposed to the ERA.  The Senate resolution can now also cross over to the House. If the House passes the ERA, the state of Virginia will become the 38th state to ratify the ERA.

The Virginia House due to the 2017 elections now has a majority vote for the ERA. In 2017, 15 new pro ERA delegates were elected, of which 11 are women, two of whom are the chief sponsors of the resolution. Supports of the ERA are hopeful that it is time to reverse 46 years of the Virginia general assembly blocking passage of the ERA.

Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority, a national organization headquartered in Virginia, said that, “a drum is beating for the ERA. It is only a matter of time – short time – that Virginia ratifies its ERA.”

The ERA passed both houses of the U.S. Congress in 1972, and like every proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution, was sent to the states for ratification. The ERA has received renewed attention following the election of Donald Trump, pushing Nevada and Illinois to become the 36th and 37th states respectively to ratify. If the ERA is ratified by 38 states and becomes the law of the land, women would be mentioned in the Constitution for the first time, and there would be a guarantee against the Supreme Court , Congress, or state legislatures gutting equality on the basis of sex.

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